Last week while on the East Coast for meetings, I had a chance to sit down with some CA folks to discuss their initiatives around the consumerization of IT (or consumer-driven IT, as they call it). Since my focus has been on virtual desktops for the past decade, I didn't really know anything about CA. In fact I'd be hard pressed to name a single product of theirs. (Does Unicenter still exist? Or something about backups?) You can imagine that I was a bit surprised (in the good way!) to arrive to a room full of people who all wanted to talk about consumerization.
CA is actually jumping into consumerization big time. What's interesting is that they don't make the sexy stuff that end users see, rather they handle all the boring back-end stuff that actually enable IT shops to deliver consumerization-based services. (Think identity management, security management, data management, etc.) CA's conversation was led by Jackie Kahle (twitter | blog), and we talked about a lot of interesting things over the course of a few hours. (Look for more on that conversation and what specific things CA is doing in the consumerization space in the next few weeks.)
The most interesting part of the meeting was talking about what specific action items that companies can do now to prepare for consumerization.
In other words, most people think that "consumerization" is a a philosophy or a trend that's hard to take action on. So what we were thinking is that it's important to give IT pros who want to embrace consumerization very specific concreate next steps. But since consumerization means different things to different people, we figured that we'd have to start generic enough to appeal to everyone.
So if you want to embrace consumerization (whatever that means), and you don't know where to begin, here's the list that Jackie, her CA team, and I came up with:
Step 1. Assess
Like with all IT projects, the first step is to assess what you have before the project begins. Not only will that let you plan better, but it will let you define how you'll be successful in the future. When it comes to assessing your organization in your "pre-consumerization" environment, it's important that you get answers to the following questions:
- Do users perform work actions from personal devices? If how, how often?
- What types of tablets do users have? What applications to they use?
- What types of phones do users have?
- What applications do people run on their client devices?
- Where do users store their data? Where do they archive their email?
You may be surprised at the results of this analysis if you do it in your environment. For example, you may think that you only have to support Blackberries, but this analysis might show that 60% of your users also have iPhones which they connect into the corporate email system.
The good news is that there are plenty of tools out there which will go out and scan the devies and networks, and they'll tell you what applications users actually use on a daily basis. So your assessment needn't be difficult. I wrote about these tools on SearchVirtualDesktop a while ago. The two I like are Lakeside Software's Virtual Migration Planner (VMP) and Liquidware Labs Stratusphere Fit.
I would imagine that you'd also have to survey your users, or maybe check your Exchange Outlook Web Access and ActiveSync logs to see what kind of devices they use to get their email.
Step 2. Pull together departments
The second step to "adopt consumerization" in your organization is to understand that it's a cross-department initiative. Truly embracing user choice requires coordination from the directory servies owner, device management, application delivery, security, identity... really the list goes on. The companies who are successful with consumerization are those to make a high-level strategy which spans departments and that are able to quickly react to what users want.
Step 3. ???
After you assess your current environment and pull together your team, what's next? Do you start looking at specific technology and products? Or is there anything I'm missing here? If someone tells you that you have to "do consumerization" for your company, what would you do first?